Cameras roll for film festival

BERWICK'S second Film and Media Arts Festival has announced its programme.

Opening on Friday, September 21, the Festival will show classics of popular cinema, European and world premieres and, with its special artists' trail, explore this year's Film on Film theme.

The film programme includes international feature films with seven UK and European premieres.

They include the opening film, US-made The Big Bad Swim, with an appearance by director Ishai Setton, and the European premiere of My Grandmother, a stunning example of surreal silent cinema, made in the former USSR in 1929 and banned for half a century. This will feature a live accompaniment by the eight-piece Beth Custer Ensemble from San Francisco.

The festival runs until Saturday, September 29 and promises to turn the town into a star in its own right.

Victoria Matthews, the festival's co-ordinator, is understandably enthusiastic.

"We have planned an international, diverse and inspiring celebration of the moving image. It is designed to make an impact both on Berwick, and through using Berwick itself. We will be on everywhere, and have an exciting outreach programme for schools. It will be an unforgettable experience," she said.

Also on the big screen will be retrospective screenings of cinema classics such as Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd and Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr., with a live piano soundtrack by Jan Gardner who reprises her stunning appearance in 2005.

The festival finishes with evidence that Berwick Loves Film– where local people have the chance to vote for their favourite love story from a list of 20 classics.

The most popular selection will be shown on the final night of the event and voters will be entered into a prize draw for a three course meal for two with wine.

The Artists' Trail, featuring the Film on Film theme, will be an international exhibition of 20 moving-image artworks and installations, including a new print of Andy Warhol's famous Screen Tests.

Exploring this year's locations as part of the trail will be an experience in itself. The festival has gained access to hidden treasures that are rarely accessed by the public. Cavernous 18th century ice houses and old prison cells where the-soon-to-be-executed spent their final hours are used.

Many historic military locations have been re-commissioned, with the walls, towers and Barracks' Gymnasium pressed into service as venues.

A former car show-room will explore images from film, some of which will pay homage to the car in film, and the exterior of the town's former cinema, The Playhouse, will itself become a projection screen for a community-based project.

This may be the building's final contribution to cinema as the developer's wrecking ball threatens. The town's bridges will also be carrying images, as well as cars, during the festival.

The Big M, a futuristic inflatable cinema, brings the town bang up to date with international short film and video work on the theme of At Home in Europe.

The festival’ s co-directors, Marcus Coates and Huw Davies, dreamt up the idea during a pub conversation.

“When we took the idea to likely funders and supporters we believed we could transform the town into a moving image installation, exploiting the town’s rich historical heritage. The first theme in 2005 was Crossing the Border. This year, we are using Berwick’s unique locations to explore Film on Film – the way film makers make reference to the language and form of Cinema in their own work. We are also putting Berwick on the European map – in Germany and Denmark, for example, smaller towns frequently hold festivals like this. Festivals of any kind in smaller locations in Britain are really special occasions – and we are proud that Berwick is now on the map, as it were!”

Individual events cost 4 but a 25 festival pass allows access to everything.